Should I sue my former employer for fired me due to my stuttering problem?

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Should I sue my former employer for fired me due to my stuttering problem?

I got fired last week from my former employer. They said that I could not handled the customer service job because I have stuttering issues when I was talking someone over the phone. They were indirectly saying that I have communication skill and nervous problem on the phone, but actually they did not want to tell me that my stuttering problem caused the big inconvenience for the job. I got fired because of other minor mistakes that I made; however, the primary issue was stuttering which they did not tell me directly. What should I do?

Asked on April 13, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

While you probably should consult with experienced employment law counsel to evaluate your situation in greater detail, it may be legal to fire you from custer service due to a stutter. The law prohibits discriminating against someone in employment due to a disability (an initial question, therefore, is whether your stutter qualifies as a disability); however, not discriminating consists of making "reasonble accomodations." A reasonable accomodation is some modification of duties or assistive devices/technology which let you do the job, so long as such accomodation is not too expensive or disruptive for the employer. However, if the employee simply cannot reasonably do the job, even with a reasonable accomodation, he or she may be terminated--the law does not require an employer to employ someone who can't perform the duties of his or her job. A stutter could make it effectively impossible to do a customer service job--customers may have difficulty understanding you, may get impatient with you, etc. Therefore, while a stutter would not affect many jobs, like in tech support, graphics, data entry, etc., it might make it impossible to be a CS person on the phone; and if so, termination would seem to be legal.


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